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"Lulu!" a mom standing not far from me called across the house where I was attending a barbecue. An energetic preschooler with blue eyes and shiny hair whipped her head around and shouted back, "Momma! I'm right here. I'm okay!"
As the mom smiled, happily reassured where her daughter was, I mumbled something like: "Such a cutie. So much spunk."
We made small talk for a bit, then I asked, "It's 'Lulu,' right? How old is she?"
The woman sighed slightly, then replied: "Almost 4. And her name is Sydney."
I must have looked confused, because the mom went on to explain her little Lulu (often called by just one "Lu") had, quite simply, not turned out to be a Sydney. Although the mom had loved the name Sydney for ages, and was thrilled to get to choose it for her daughter, the name had never felt a great fit. In fact, Sydney had been called "baby Lu" since just a few weeks old.
"I have no idea where 'Lu' even came from," the mom told me, "but no one aside from her great grandmother calls her Sydney now. She gets mad when anyone calls her it."
Which got me thinking about the difference between a "real" name and a birth name. I suppose a name can really be any combination of letters and sounds you prefer. When you get down to it, there is a surprising lack or rules or standards about the whole thing. If you, or Lu, is attached to a certain sound does it really matter if it's different than what's on your birth certificate?
I cautiously asked if they'd considered making Sydney officially Lu, and received an even greater sigh.
"We want to," the mom explained, "but I just don't know. What if she hates Lulu later on? At least this way she has a more formal name to switch back to. But then again maybe it's worse to stick her with a name that she hates for no real reason? I don't even know."
I couldn't think of much to say after that. Baby name regret seems like a tough situation to be in, and I don't know if I were in that spot if I'd make the leap to a formal name change. It's the kind of thing I think shouldn't really matter, but somehow it totally feels like it does.
Images via UnSplash
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.